Nepal is a country famous for its rugged beauty and deep cultural heritage. But many of the people living among some of the world’s most breathtaking mountain ranges struggle with extreme, pervasive poverty. Though there is potential for economic growth and development for Nepalese people, poverty in Nepal has proven to be a stubborn and significant challenge.

In this blog post, we will look into the root causes of poverty in Nepal, the current state of poverty for its citizens, and the effects of poverty on peoples’ lives. We’ll explain how COVID-19 negatively impacted development efforts, and how those efforts must accelerate to make a real impact on poverty alleviation in Nepal.

Poverty Causes and Effects

Poverty, wherever it exists, is a complex and multifaceted issue. So it makes sense that this would be the case for poverty in Nepal. A person is considered impoverished if they lack the resources necessary to sustain a basic standard of living that is healthy and normal for that society. These resources include:

  • Access to clean, safe water
  • Adequate amounts of nutritious and varied food
  • Safe and stable shelter
  • Adequate access to education
  • Adequate access to healthcare and social services

The root causes of poverty can stem from the social norms and traditions of a society, environmental factors and climate change, systemic issues that affect marginalized communities to an unfair degree, and many other issues that can exist in combination. In Nepal, according to the Kathmandu Post, specific factors include:

  • A complicated political landscape with the recent adoption of a new Constitution and multiple federal elections
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and landslides
  • Inadequate infrastructure in some remote areas which would include sanitation, a widespread electricity grid, and well-maintained roads
  • Areas of limited access to education and healthcare
  • Caste-based discrimination
  • Gender inequality

All these factors cause specific groups to struggle to achieve prosperity for themselves and their children.

Outreach Project: A community-based organization in Farsidol hired an agriculture expert to educate people on modernized growing techniques and maximizing volume and quality of production.

The State of Poverty in Nepal: Current Poverty Rate

“Nepal has failed to lower the extreme poverty rate from 20% over the last 12 years.”

Nonprofit organizations like Outreach International have worked hard for years to reduce poverty in Nepal. But according to sources like The Kathmandu Post, Nepal’s poverty rate remains stubbornly high. It states that Nepal has failed to lower the extreme poverty rate from 20% over the last 12 years. The World Bank’s Nepal Development Update highlights this issue, stating that as of 2024 it is still on the United Nations List of Least Developed Countries. These stubborn issues keep poverty rates in Nepal above those of many other regions and perpetuate the threat to the well-being and future prospects of many Nepalese citizens.

Population Below the Poverty Line in Nepal

Experts who work to reduce poverty in the world find this number of 20% alarming, and they stress the urgency of helping people as they face challenges related to food, shelter, education, and healthcare. The facilitators who partner with Outreach International work tirelessly to implement targeted interventions to uplift the most vulnerable communities using the proven methodology of community-led development, which teaches leaders of their own communities to identify and mobilize to solve their own unique combination of poverty-related issues.

“The community-led development methodology teaches leaders of their own communities to identify and mobilize to solve their own unique combination of poverty-related issues.”

The Role of COVID-19 in Deepening Poverty

Like everywhere else in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened Nepal’s poverty crisis. The World Bank estimates that COVID pushed an additional 70 million people below the extreme poverty line. And vulnerable populations, like many people in Nepal, were disproportionately affected. COVID-era issues led to job losses, income reduction, and disruptions in peoples’ livelihoods worldwide. Nepal still struggles with the impact of the pandemic, making the need for action to solve poverty-related issues more urgent than ever.

Projects like soap making help alleviate poverty in Nepal.

Outreach Project: An Outreach Nepal facilitator teaches mobilization skills that lead to a soap making project in the community of Lapse, leading to greater hygiene and income for the community.

The Impact of Poverty on Education, Health, and the Economy

Poverty in Nepal creates difficulty in almost every aspect of the lives of people affected. And children living in poverty are especially vulnerable to these issues. Access to education, healthcare, nutrition, and safety all affect children disproportionately and can create problems that last for a lifetime. A child who is born into poverty is likely to never find adequate opportunity to achieve economic stability, and is therefore often destined to become an adult who must raise the next generation of impoverished children. This phenomenon of passing down poverty from one generation to the next is known as the cycle of poverty, and it perpetuates lifetimes of deprivation, inequality, marginalization, and hopelessness.

The economic implications of poverty in a society are also profound and far-reaching. People who are forced to rely on inadequate work such as subsistence farming and informal day labor can never achieve economic stability. The ongoing issue of unemployment and underemployment hinders the greater economy of a society, because more people need to take from what may be scarce resources rather than contribute to them. Also, reliance on agriculture makes a community vulnerable to weather cycles, natural disasters, and climate change, which increase food insecurity and economic instability. The World Bank 2023 Nepal Development Update explains these issues in great detail.

“The ongoing issue of unemployment and underemployment hinders the greater economy of society, with more people needing to take from what may be scarce resources rather than contribute to them.”

Efforts and Initiatives: Finding Solutions to Poverty in Nepal

Community-led organizations are the key to finding local solutions to poverty in Nepal.

“Outreach facilitators work with communities to teach them how to identify their own poverty-related issues and then mobilize to solve them.”

Despite the number and severity of issues of poverty in Nepal, Outreach International’s partners there are leading the efforts to empower communities to address their own poverty issues. The methodology of participatory human development used by Outreach brings people who live in poverty into the process of finding solutions. People who live in poverty are uniquely qualified to identify their individual problems. But it can be nearly impossible for people to solve these problems alone. Outreach facilitators work with communities to teach them how to identify their own poverty-related issues and then mobilize to solve them. Community groups take form, leaders emerge, and people gain knowledge and experience that they can then use to tackle future problems and reach ever-higher goals.

The efforts to alleviate poverty in Nepal must increase, and more progress must be made. The Nepal Development Update states that investing in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and sustainable employment is crucial for creating the momentum needed for prosperity to grow for all Nepalese people, and for the economy of Nepal to grow in a way that benefits all its communities.

Outreach initiated programs that bring clean water, nutrition, education, healthcare, and job training are all possible because community members learn to solve these issues for themselves. When people empower their own communities and solve their own poverty-related issues, economic opportunities become available for women and men of all social classes. And when people gain the knowledge to improve the conditions of their lives, all of Nepal can move toward a more prosperous and equitable future.

The cycle of poverty in Nepal can be broken to bring the next generation into a life of prosperity and hope.

“When people empower their own communities and solve their own poverty-related issues, economic opportunities become available for women and men of all social classes.”

How to Help: Supporting Nepal’s Alleviation of Poverty with Outreach International

There are simple and effective ways to contribute to the alleviation of poverty in Nepal. By donating to Outreach International, individuals can support the work of community-led development that empowers people to lift themselves out of poverty. This methodology leads to positive change that can last for generations. Also, supporters of these efforts in Nepal can spread awareness of the urgency of poverty issues in that region. Advocating for social inclusion, equality, and environmental issues can also pave the way for real and sustainable progress.

“By donating to Outreach International, individuals can support the work of community-led development that empowers people to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Poverty in Nepal remains a significant challenge, but concerted effort and collective action can create solutions. By understanding the root causes of poverty, addressing the complex and multifaceted impacts of these issues, and supporting the empowerment of communities, we can all help Nepalese people work to earn a future where they have the opportunity to thrive and prosper. It is your help that will make the difference in the work to alleviate poverty and build a more inclusive and equitable society for generations to come.